This sprawling, sun-drenched, seaside city that we call home is really an easy place to travel.
While our penchant for abbreviating just about every word that doesn’t already end in ‘o’ and fondness for the beach are things you may already know, these other tips will hopefully help you avoid getting blistered with sunburn, get the best deals in town and find that perfect strip of sand to lay down your towel.
Take our word for it, you do not want to be that snowy-skinned Brit swanning around town in a tank top without sunscreen glad to finally soak up some sun and work on your summer tan. You will burn, it will hurt, and well, you’ll spend the next week walking around town while your skin tries to shed its upper layers in the most unsightly way imaginable.
Nowhere else in the world is the sun quite as strong as in Australia. Spend just a few minutes under the rays and you’ll quickly feel the burn. Even on an overcast day it’s easy to be tickled a particularly awful shade of lobster red if you don’t use precautions.
Always wear sunscreen as a minimum, even when walking around the city and for a day at the beach, don’t forget to reapply.
With a major international airport and Australia’s most popular backpacker trail on it’s doorstep, Sydney is the best place to start your Aussie road trip. Surf your way to Byron Bay, snorkel across the Great Barrier Reef (or what’s left of it) and explore the rainforests of Daintree National Park.
Along the main backpacker trail, you’ll find many spots for free camping (or parking) as well as free amenities on many beaches along the way.
Bondi may be the poster child for Sydney’s beaches, catering to the hipster coffee guzzling niche with a line up of world famous lifeguards to its name. It’s also a huge tourist magnet and on a sunny Saturday afternoon, you’ll struggle to find a patch of sand to squeeze your towel in.
With over 100 stretches of fluffy golden sand hugging Sydney’s coastline, its beaches are easily one of the city’s best assets and there are plenty more waterside spaces where you won’t have to fight for a spot between the hordes.
Hailing from the Northern Beaches, our favourite would have to be Freshwater.
Sydney is a hugely multicultural city, which means an array of delicious eats from across the globe are available at the touch of a button, or a short stroll around the corner. In the space of a few blocks you can nibble on sashimi, sip on a prawn laksa, sample some tapas, slurp up a fork of linguine and finish the day with a stack of mango pancakes.
In fact, on returning to Sydney, our list of things to do when we got home consisted almost entirely of reacquainted ourselves with foods and restaurants we hadn’t tried in a while (you know, after catching up with family and friends). The options are endless, the quality world-class and you’ll be able to find something to satisfy any budget or weird food craving.
Oh, and brunch. Don’t miss out on brunch. Smashed avocado (or avo for the initiated) on sourdough toast, grilled mushrooms bruschetta, smoked salmon eggs benedict… um what were we talking about. Right. Food. Sydney has awesome food.
If you’re a backpacker just cruising around the city, traffic shouldn’t affect you too much but if you’re staying away from the centre and not on a train line, it can take a while to get anywhere, especially during peak times.
Coffee-lovers, tea-drinkers, skinny soy caramel decaf latte sippers, rejoice! Sydney is home to some great cafes with as extensive a list of bean, leaf and milk blends as you could imagine. And because upcycled wooden chairs and table decorations made of forks are so in right now, you’ll get your caffeine hit with a side of hipster quirk, served up by a beaming bearded fellow in skinny jeans and oversized glasses.
In fact Sydneysiders love their local, artisan coffee so much that after eight years trying to break into the market Starbucks waved the white flag of surrender and began their retreat (although they are attempting to stage a comeback).
Some call them stupid, others call them practical. Either way, Sydney definitely has a few laws that have earned it the ‘nanny state’ title. In Europe and many other popular destinations, walking along the beach with a beer in hand is a perfectly normal and lovely way to see in the end of the day. In Australia, this could earn you an on-the-spot fine.
Public beaches, parks and transport are often designated alcohol-free zones. It sucks but… what can ya do.
In an attempt to curb alcohol-fuelled violence, the lockout laws that have infiltrated Sydney’s nightlife hotspots and driven a lot of businesses to the brink of collapse also continue on in the city. These include lockouts after 1:30AM and last drinks at 3AM.
If you’re cruising the city by day and night, hopping between bus, train and ferry to your hearts content, you’ll likely rack up quite the travel bill. Travel on Sunday is capped at $2.50 all day on any mode of transport, so if you’re on a budget save the most expensive trips – like the harbour ferry or out of city train trip – until then.
Sick of the concrete jungle? Lucky for you, Sydney is surrounded by national parks where opportunities for outdoor adventure abound. Climb the highest cliffs, seek out secluded beaches or hike between the eucalypts. If the city just isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to enjoy just a train ride away.
With growing popularity over the past few years, outdoor cinemas have been popping up all over the city. Pack a picnic, pick up a beanbag and when the sun goes down settle in for a film.
Showing a mix of new releases and old-school classics, these cinemas generally only run during the summer months (December to April).
A popular choice is the Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park, but there are several other venues as well.
For a while the Aussie dollar was 1:1 with the US Dollar, but in the past year it has dropped to a fraction of its former value. While this pretty much sucks for us as travellers, it’s pretty great for many other nationalities wishing to travel here.
Visit now and enjoy everything this city has to offer at a substantially reduced rate.